FREE Things to do this January at the Science and Industry Museum

January may be associated with cold, dark days and lack of cash post-Christmas, but with all the free things to see and do at the Science and Industry Museum, it definitely doesn’t have to be boring!

By Emma Davidson | Last updated 4 January 2022

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From wondrous mechanical creations springing to life and thundering textile machines in action, to discovering how far we have come in revolutionising cancer care, the Science and Industry Museum has a perfect day out for everyone.

Fans of the 1965 film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, can discover the charming final work of one of Britain’s best loved artists and sculptors, Rowland Emett, the creator of the inventions of ‘Caractacus Potts’ in the classic film.  

On display for the first time in the Museum’s Textiles gallery,A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley‘ was constructed in 1984 and saved for the UK after being purchased for the Science Museum Group Collection with support from Art Fund, the Science Museum Foundation, the Friends of the National Railway Museum and private donors. 

Until April, visitors can see two scenes from the fantastical work of art telling the story of a journey aboard the imaginary ‘Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway,’ based on one of Emett’s cartoons.

The two scenes – Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway featuring the ‘Wild Goose’ locomotive, and Oyster Creek – come to life twice a day. Treating visitors to the whirring of cogs and characters toasting teacakes and diving, while also revealing what this whimsical sculpture has in common with the museum’s thundering textiles machinery. 

If you’re interested in cutting-edge medicine (who isn’t at the minute?!), then you can uncover the past, present and future of how cancer is prevented, detected and treated at the world-first free exhibition, Cancer Revolution: Science, innovation and hope. 

Through seldom and never-before seen objects and stories, cutting edge treatment and research, reflection, new artist commissions and installations, film, photography, interactive exhibits and a breadth of personal stories – the exhibition presents the stories of people affected by cancer, together with those who study and treat it.

From busting myths about the causes of cancer, to revealing that it even affected dinosaurs millions of years ago, and how everything from virtual reality to 3D printing, early detection technologies and immunotherapies are advancing cancer care today – it shows just how far we have come.

There are also amazing stories to discover in the rest of the galleries including Experiment, a favourite among family visitors, where science is brought to life through a series of interactive exhibits from lifting a mini to creating a hurricane.

Journey through Manchester’s rich legacy of industrial innovations, scientific discoveries and ideas that changed the world in the Revolution Manchester gallery . Including finding out just how much computers have advanced since 1948 by watching volunteers run ‘Baby’, the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine – the very first computer to store and run a program.

A family look at a glass display case, shot on location at the Science & Industry Museum, Manchester, October 2020

Pay a visit to the Textiles Gallery to discover why Manchester is a city built on cotton. Meet the machines, people and stories that made Manchester the first industrial city and find out how ‘Cottonopolis’ changed the world we all live in today.

Join the volunteers for daily ‘Weavers wanted’ demonstrations transporting visitors back in time to the working mills of 150 years ago experiencing the thundering sounds of the machinery and finding out what life was like for thousands of mill workers. Learning all the tricks of the trade as we turn cotton into the thread that made everything from napkins to knickers, and finding out which job you’d have and what life was like for the workers that made Manchester.

Revolution is currently in progress to restore and transform the Science and Industry Museum, meaning that some areas remain closed to the public. Through a multi-million pound restoration programme, the museum is revealing inspirational new spaces and perspectives for all to enjoy, play and learn in.

This includes carrying out crucial work to restore and tell the stories of the historic listed Power Hall, 1830 Station and Warehouse; building awe-inspiring new indoor and outdoor experiences for families; bringing to life the story of the revolutionary railway; using our collections to create new galleries revealing the wonder of how Manchester’s past and present continues to shape the modern world; and decarbonising our site.


A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley
Wednesday – Sunday 11.30am and 2pm
Suitable for all ages

Meet Baby
Wednesday – Friday 10.30am – 1.30pm
Recommended for ages 12 and over

Weavers Wanted
Wednesday to Friday 11am, 12pm, 13.30pm, 14.30pm
Recommended for ages 5 and over

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